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AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

AXPONA 2022 Show Report
Third Floor Thrills At Audio Expo North America 2022
Show Report By Rick Becker



  What really grabbed my attention was the Grumpy Goose Headphone Stand from O'Neill's Creation Workshop. This is the coolest desktop headphone stand I've ever seen! The business sticker (not a business card) says "I have no idea what I'm doing" and I would have to concur. The prices listed on the website are in Canadian dollars, making this an incredible bargain. And to prove me right, they have all been sold. If you want one for Christmas, I suggest you order it right now. The geese only fly over his workshop twice a year. Note the bill on the goose is a second wood species. Barely visible on the back of the head is a leather strap that snaps to secure your coiled-up headphone cable. The various wood species make for a wide selection, though I'm not sure you get to choose. If you scroll through the various galleries on his website you will see Chris is both an artist and a craftsman, working out of St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada. And no, this is not his day job. You have to wait.




Room 358 was listed as Danville Signal Processing, a company with very high-tech people who help other audio manufacturers develop products using digital processing. Like BASF, they don't make the product; they make the product better. What I found here was a very interesting pair of speakers for $12k built, including two servo amps for the woofer modules, but not the four-channel amp you will need for the upper open baffle planar drivers. You can also buy the kit for $8500. There is a slim silver control box with all the digital crossovers and the wiring, which appeared to be fairly ordinary cable — not expensive audiophile branded cable.



The servo woofers were labeled GR, for GR Research. I remember watching a GR Research video of a design similar to this, so maybe this is the penultimate version of that design? It sounded very good during my brief visit. The dual-driver woofer design with open baffle drivers aimed both fore and aft was very similar to the GR Research woofers used in the Lemay Audio Hommage speakers that were so amazing at the Montreal show a month earlier. The woofers in the Hommage set-up were all facing forward, an optional configuration.





SOTA turntables teamed up with a Doshi phono stage, ModWright integrated amplifier, and KEF Reference 3 Meta floorstanding speakers ($15k). The speakers looked very nice in a Danish contemporary way with the wood veneer, but they are customizable with a variety of gloss paint versions and a variety of colors for the coaxial Meta driver in the center, plus a few different finishes for the driver surrounds that hide the mounting screws. There are dual ports on the back as well as binding posts for bi-wiring.


In room 366, Vana Ltd had a demonstration of the Shinon AI-powered acoustic panels. Unfortunately, this was the last room I caught up with on my sweep at the end of the show. Seating was limited which is why I passed it by on my initial pass through the 3rd Floor. By the time I arrived, one of the wooden end panels that lined the wall behind the seats had been removed, compromising the effect to a degree. The system works with a couple of sensors in each panel, artificial intelligence with motion-sensing algorithms, and ultrasound to cancel noise and optimize the sound, even as you walk around in the room, so the listener becomes the sweet spot. And no, I don't know if that works with multiple people walking around in the room. I got a sense of the improvement, but as in previous show demonstrations, as the effect is turned on and off, it was difficult to grasp — plus one of the panels was inoperative. If I have the opportunity in the future, I'd like to be in control of the switch to help me recognize the difference when I turn it on or off. I've had much better success with that method in the past. This technology has applications beyond music environments, so hopefully, I will have another opportunity to experience this novel technology from Austria. The large wood panels were quite acceptable from an architectural standpoint.




EAT (European Audio Team) pulled out all the stops with their Fortissimo turntable covered in a gorgeous wood veneer and their new F-Note high mass tonearm that is designed to work especially well with their Jo No8 cartridge. It was priced at $18k with the cartridge. If this interests you at all, you need to check out the details on their website — they are numerous and impressive. There is also a smaller "S" version at a lower cost that lacks the separate motor drive feature. Electronics here included the EAT E-Glo S Hybrid/Tube phono stage ($3599) and the separate EAT linear power supply ($1400, when purchased with the E-Glo S.)

The speaker here was the Marten Parker Trio, Diamond Edition which starts at $39k in the matt walnut finish as shown. (The diamond tweeter adds about $10k over the standard version with ceramic tweeter, as I recall.) The elegant design is available in four finishes and comes with special vibration-absorbing feet. The weird appearance of the tweeter in the photo is a reflection of something in the room, sorry. Cables were Jorma Unity ($3k interconnect, $5k speaker),  who also supplies the internal cables for Marten, and Atlas Cables supplied the Eos Superior power cables (~$2k) and Mavros interconnects (~$2k) and speaker cables ($3385/2m).




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